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Meta expands hate speech policy to remove more posts targeting ‘Zionists’

REUTERS/YVES HERMAN/FILE PHOTO
                                The logo of Meta Platforms’ business group is seen in Brussels, Belgium, in December 2022.
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REUTERS/YVES HERMAN/FILE PHOTO

The logo of Meta Platforms’ business group is seen in Brussels, Belgium, in December 2022.

Meta Platforms said today it would start taking down more posts that target “Zionists,” where the term is used to refer to Jewish people and Israelis rather than representing supporters of the political movement.

The Facebook and Instagram parent said in a blog post it would remove content “attacking ‘Zionists’ when it is not explicitly about the political movement” and uses antisemitic stereotypes or threatens harm through intimidation or violence directed against Jews or Israelis.

Meta’s hate speech policy prohibits direct attacks on people on the basis of what it calls protected characteristics, which include race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, disability and gender identity, among others.

The social media giant said its existing policies, which treat the term “Zionist” as a proxy for Jewish or Israeli people in just two narrow circumstances, did not sufficiently address the ways people use the word more broadly.

The policy update, which follows Meta’s consultations with 145 stakeholders representing civil society and academia across global regions, comes as tensions escalate in the Middle East amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Meta has been criticized for years on how it handles content involving the Middle East, and those criticisms shot up further after the start of the war, with rights groups accusing the company of suppressing content supportive of Palestinians on Facebook and Instagram.

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